What are wages?
If you are employed, you are entitled to be paid for the work that you do. The payment you receive is called a wage or salary. Your employer can pay you in cash, by cheque or deposit the money into your bank account.
Your employer must give you a payslip that shows how much you were paid including superannuation and any deductions, such as tax. You should receive your payslip within one working day of your payday.
Even if you are paid in cash, your employer has to give you a payslip. If you don't get a payslip, you can ask for one. The payslip will show whether your employer is following the law by paying you superannuation, for example.
How much should I be paid?
The amount you are paid will depend on:
Some employees may be entitled to overtime, allowances, commissions and bonuses as well as their ordinary wage.
For more information, see:
Most employees must be paid at least the national minimum wage. Some employees are entitled to a higher minimum wage, set out in their award or enterprise agreement.
As at 1 July 2022, the national minimum wage is $21.38 per hour.
Not all employees are paid at or above the minimum wage. To find out which employees should be paid the minimum wage, go to the
'Minimum wages' page on the Fair Work Ombudsman website. If you are not sure if you should be paid the minimum wage, you should get
An award sets minimum terms and conditions for employees and may say what minimum hourly rate you should be paid. The amount may depend on how long you have worked in your role.
Not all employees are covered by an award. To find out what award might apply to you, see the
Fair Work Ombudsman website.
An enterprise agreement is an agreement between an employer and their employees about terms and conditions of employment. Enterprise agreements must be approved by the Fair Work Commission.
When a workplace has an enterprise agreement, the award that would normally apply no longer applies. But the pay rate in the enterprise agreement cannot be less than the pay rate in the award. If an enterprise agreement applies to your workplace, it will tell you what the minimum wage for your position is.
You can search for an enterprise agreement using the
Fair Work Commission website. It can help if you know the name of the agreement or the agreement ID number.
Your contract of employment
Even though your award or enterprise agreement may say that you are to be paid at a particular rate, you and your employer can agree that you be paid at a higher rate.
You may not realise you have a contract of employment. In many cases an employer will have all new employees sign a contract of employment. Even if you haven't signed a written contract, if you are working for someone, you have a contract of employment. The terms of the contract will be determined by things such as:
- what was said when you were employed
- what has happened while you have been employed
- what is the normal practice in your industry
- what is in the award
- what the national employment standards are.
If you are not sure what the terms of your contract of employment are, you should get
An employment contract cannot exclude terms and conditions in an award or enterprise agreement.
If you are covered by an award or an enterprise agreement, it should specify when your wages should be paid. For example, it might say that you should be paid weekly or fortnightly.
If you are not covered by an award or an enterprise agreement, and your contract of employment doesn't say how often you should be paid, then you must be paid at least once a month.
If you are dismissed (sacked) or resign from your job, you are entitled to be paid for the hours that you have worked. This amount, as well as any other amount you are entitled to, should be paid when you leave your job or on the next scheduled payday.
If you are not paid or you haven't been paid the right amount, there are steps you can take to try and recover the money that you are entitled to. For more information, see
What if my entitlements are not paid?
Case study - Jasmine
Jasmine works at a clothing store. Recently, she found out that her friend, James, who works at another clothing store, earns more than her, but does the same job.
Confused, Jasmine called the Fair Work Infoline. They helped her find the Award that applies to her and confirmed that she was being underpaid. Jasmine used the Award Finder on the Fair Work Ombudsman website to show her boss what the minimum weekly wage is for someone working in her position.
Jasmine's boss wasn't aware that she was underpaying her. She paid the underpayment and also corrected the pay of other employees.